Trump Backtracking on Religious Liberty?

The Trump Justice Department, headed by pro-life AG Jeff Sessions, is inexplicably backtracking on promises of religious liberty. Obamacare, which many of us had hoped would be gone by now, attempted to force a birth-control mandate on Christian organizations that opposed it in principle.

Trump loudly proclaimed throughout his campaign that he would be a champion of religious liberty, that the federal government would not interfere in deeply held religious beliefs. But look what’s happening now.

A district court ruled in favor of the religious organizations, which led to the Obama Justice Department (yes, I know the oxymoronic quality of that title) appealing the decision. Everyone expected the new Justice Department, led by the conservative Sessions, would drop that appeal.

It hasn’t happened. In fact, . . . well, I’ll quote from a newspaper report:

Several religious groups are dismayed and confused by the Trump administration’s move, including the Little Sisters of the Poor — a group of nuns — that fought the mandate for several years but expected an immediate reprieve under the GOP president. They believed either the Justice Department would halt its appeal in the case or the administration would seek a rules change from the Department of Health and Human Services.

East Texas Baptist University and other plaintiffs represented by the nonprofit law firm Becket are now asking the Justice Department to drop its appeal of a district-court ruling in their favor, allowing them permanent relief from the mandate.

Conservatives who oppose the birth control mandate on religious liberty grounds are bewildered by the move at a Justice Department headed by former Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who is well known for his conservative views.

As things stand now, it appears that Justice plans to continue defending the way the Obama administration applied the birth-control mandate, said Eric Rassbach, a Becket attorney.

Continue defending the Obamacare mandate on birth control? Why on earth would this administration act like the Obama administration on this issue?

I’m willing to wait and see. My hope—giving the benefit of the doubt here—is that there is some confusion in the department that will be straightened out. Perhaps the outrage over this report will awaken them to what they are doing.

Meanwhile, I continue to offer the same caution I’ve been offering all along: don’t expect principle from an administration that is headed by a man without principle. Sometimes, he will do what is right, but one can never depend on that.

Principles and Christian character remain the cornerstones for good government. Without them, it’s like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get.

Rejoicing Over What Has Gone Right

I’ve decided to devote today’s post to praise for a number of things that have gone right lately. It’s always easy to critique the development of current events, given the Obama administration’s penchant for upending the Constitution and Biblical morality, so it’s nice to point out the other side for a change.

All of these praises today come, surprisingly, as a result of Supreme Court decisions. After the agony of the Court’s rulings on Obamacare and the Defense of Marriage Act, it’s a relief to see the Court, once in a while, come out on the side of the Constitution, particularly religious liberty and free speech.

For instance, the Court overturned a Massachusetts law that created a so-called “buffer zone” that banned pro-lifers from entering. Outside abortion clinics, pro-life citizens were not allowed to speak to women entering the clinics in that state. They had to stay a “safe” distance away. The Court ruled that this was a direct violation of those citizens’ right to free speech. They were not protesters, said the Court, but concerned citizens who sought to engage other citizens in a discussion of issues. I’ve read where Massachusetts authorities are livid over this decision and are trying to figure a way around it, but for now, free speech and the sanctity of life prevail.

Colorado Christian University won a temporary injunction against the imposition of the Obamacare requirements for providing all types of birth control. This is similar to the Hobby Lobby case, which I’ll get to shortly.

Prior to ruling on Hobby Lobby, the Court exercised a restraining order, so to speak, on President Obama when it comes to making recess appointments. The problem was that Obama himself determined that the Senate wasn’t in session, so he went ahead and filled positions without the Senate’s approval. The Senate, however, still deemed itself in session. The president has no right under the Constitution to declare the Senate not in session. Interestingly, this was a 9-0 decision, with even the liberal/progressive justices in agreement.

In Session

Obama’s attempt to govern unilaterally was struck down, and it was only the precursor to what the Court had to say about Hobby Lobby:

Romeo & Juliet

Actually, two cases, very similar, were decided. Along with Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit against being forced to offer its employees aborifacients, another company operating on its Christian faith, Conestoga Wood, had filed suit as well. Both were vindicated by the Court’s decisions. Justice Samuel Alito, in his majority opinion, made it clear that closely held corporations like these two have all the rights of individuals, including liberty of conscience in matters of religious belief. Both companies operate with Biblical foundations, and both were given exemptions from the mandate. The opinion rested on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law passed in the House by acclamation and in the Senate by a vote of 97-3 back in 1993. The president who signed it into law was Bill Clinton. It seems Democrats were for it back then; now they cry foul when it is actually put into practice.

The only sad part of this is that the decision revealed a split Court, ruling in those companies’ favor by only 5-4. This shows how we remain on a precipice as we look toward the future of religious liberty in America:

Land of Religious Liberty

Meanwhile, the silly argument that this is somehow a war on women and that women’s health is now endangered continues unabated. Never mind that no woman has been cut off from birth control; ignore that the cost is not prohibitive; and don’t let the general public know the truth about Hobby Lobby—that it does offer birth control in its health plan, just not the types that may cause abortions:

Setback

What the Supreme Court has done these last couple of weeks is rein in a president who has been acting like a king:

Three Branches

For now, at least, his pretensions have been challenged:

Gavel

On top of all this, Speaker John Boehner has announced that he is bringing a lawsuit against the president for his unlawful actions, taking upon himself the prerogatives of Congress. Obama is unbowed by this new threat to his quest for complete authority:

Executive Order

He will never allow the Constitution to get in his way. That’s why we must remain vigilant.

But, for today, I rejoice over the recent victories.

Religious Liberty in the Crosshairs

Forty-three organizations, mostly Catholic, have sued the federal government over the HHS regulations in Obamacare that would force them to violate their religious beliefs. Some people don’t care because they view this as a birth control issue, they are secular, and they consider the Catholic church to be positively medieval in its strictures against birth control. Others, among them Protestant Christians, are tempted to stay on the sidelines because they don’t agree with the church’s stance on the issue and they’re not Catholic.

Those Protestants need to beware. It won’t stop with Catholic doctrine. The juggernaut of state control of religious beliefs will encompass them sooner or later. Actually, the time is now. I teach at a Protestant university. Those regulations may tell us to offer abortifacient drugs, which would be against our doctrinal beliefs. Catholics, Protestants, and anyone else concerned about the survival of religious liberty in this nation ought to be on the alert and standing against this policy.

You would think a First Amendment case of this import would be receiving a lot of publicity. However, as usual, the president’s supporters in the mainstream media are doing their best to minimize coverage. Even when they do cover it, they will twist it into a birth control debate, knowing that most Americans will be on their side and will miss the real threat.

Amazingly, while this serious case is going forward, the media finds the antics of the pope’s butler more significant. I wasn’t sure what I thought of the following cartoon when it came out—not sure I would share it because I thought it might be slightly blasphemous. But upon further consideration, I concluded it truly makes its point, and I don’t think the Lord minds.

This is the equivalent of the Biblical warning about straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.

So what’s the president’s response thus far?

Well, not precisely. But I do believe if he wins reelection, what has transpired already will seem tame compared to what will follow after. Those of us with religious convictions are on his radar—we are targets.

Media-Ignored Stories

I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve missed a couple of really big stories lately. The reason you may have missed them is that they have rarely been mentioned in the mainstream media. The first is a potential constitutional earthquake. Reporters who say they are devoted to the First Amendment for its free-speech protections are strangely silent when it comes to religious freedom, particularly when their beloved Obamacare and “right-to-choose-abortion” beliefs may be smacked down.

Forty-three Catholic agencies have initiated lawsuits against the Obamacare mandate that they violate their religious beliefs by offering both contraceptive and abortifacient drugs to employees—and to students in the case of colleges.

If they can win these cases, religious liberty will continue to be protected. If not . . . well, you be the judge.

Then there is the embarrassing story that is developing in the Democrat primaries. Are you even aware there are Democrat primaries? They haven’t been a matter of news before now since the president has no formal opponent. Yet, in the West Virginia primary a convicted felon received 40% of the vote, in Arkansas, an unknown on the ballot also got about 40%, and in Kentucky, with no one else on the ballot but Obama, the “undecided” choice on the ticket received 40% as well. Does that sound like a Democrat electorate that is solidly behind reelection? Maybe they’ve been contemplating their leader’s real record:

This is no threat to Obama’s renomination, but it’s an early signal of what he may face in the general election. At least, that is my hope.

Cartoon Day

I’ve got a cold and don’t want to try to think too much. Is it okay if I just inundate you with cartoons today? I have a lot of new ones. Here’s one dealing with one of my “favorite” organizations:

And of course there’s the continuing healthcare controversy over forcing religious organizations to offer all methods of birth control, even those that could be considered abortifacients:

Then there’s the Republican race, where Rick Santorum is finally making a splash. How do we know? He’s showing up in the political cartoons:

He’s going to have to watch out, though; he’s now a target:

I sincerely hope he’s ready for what he will have to face from those who don’t bother with moral scruples.

That Was the Week That Was

Time to summarize the week, starting with the Obama administration’s directive to force Catholic hospitals to provide birth control [and by extension possible abortions]. Where does he think he gets that authority?

This is a slap in the face, of course, to all those Catholics who voted for him, thinking he was some kind of paragon of virtue. But they should have known; his record was quite clear before running for the presidency. He was the only state senator in Illinois who fought to disallow babies born alive “accidentally” during an abortion to receive medical care. He has been consistent.

Hopefully, they’ll make a more informed choice this November.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder testified [sort of] to a House committee again over his accountability in the Fast and Furious scandal. Congress has been requesting the pertinent records for quite some time. There seems to be a speed bump somewhere in the process of receiving them. Perhaps a better name can be given to this scandal:

Let’s just say Mr. Holder has been less than forthcoming:

The Occupy Movement has also been trying to get back into the news. One wonders if they need a public relations firm, considering their outrageous actions. Their mantra of the 1% vs. the 99% could easily be turned back on them:

Then there’s always the budget/national debt issue. Remarkably, the unemployment rate fell temporarily to 8.3% [don’t expect that to last too long], but the overall financial mess we find ourselves in as a nation only gets worse:

Don’t be fooled by superficial good news; the overall picture is still pretty bleak.

Funding an Abomination

Planned Parenthood was in the news this past week. An undercover sting videoed a PP clinic manager in New Jersey coaching two individuals presenting themselves as a pimp and an underage prostitute on how to cover up their illicit business.

This type of thing is not unusual at Planned Parenthood. A few years ago, someone recorded a phone conversation with a clinic employee in which the caller said he wanted to donate to the organization, but he wanted his money to go toward reducing the number of black babies being born. The employee said that would be no problem; they could direct the money as he wished.

It’s hard to believe that many people still don’t grasp the nature of this organization. It is the foremost provider of abortions in the world, yet the name itself—Planned Parenthood—sounds so good. I mean, who could ever be in favor of chaotic parenthood? Sometimes, if you win the semantic war, you can create an image that looks respectable when, in fact, you may be one of the most reprehensible agencies on the planet.

Planned Parenthood qualifies as a reprehensible agency—easily in the top ten in reprehensibility, if that is a valid word.

All one has to do is investigate the founder, Margaret Sanger. She was a full-blown eugenicist, a pseudo-science popular in the early twentieth century that believed in creating superior people through the right kind of breeding. What, specifically, did Sanger promote?

  • The elimination of what she called “human weeds.” Is that any way to talk about human beings made in the image of God?
  • The cessation of all charity. After all, if you help those human weeds, they will only proliferate, which is bad for society.
  • The segregation of “genetically inferior races.” For Sanger, blacks qualified as one of the inferior races. She started the “Negro Project,” the purpose of which was to stop blacks from having too many children. She didn’t wish to see such an “inferior race” propagate itself.
  • To accomplish her goals, she advocated birth control methods, not simply for parents to choose when to have children, but to ensure that only the “best races” would have the most children. As techniques advanced, birth control was joined by abortion as a legitimate means for controlling designated populations.
  • Complete sexual freedom, undermining the institution of marriage and promoting promiscuity. Currently, Planned Parenthood teaches young people to “explore” their sexuality without guilt. Nothing is out of bounds if you really want to experiment.
  • Socialism—she desired the government to step in and direct society.

What a list. Could she possibly be one of the worst individuals in the history of our nation? Here’s a fascinating photo of Sanger speaking to a group that should be easily recognized:

Historically, Planned Parenthood has been a blatantly racist organization. Presently, it pushes sexual immorality of all types and seeks to demolish all Christian morality in society. Yet our federal government continues to fund this abomination. As we seek to cut back on government spending, might I offer a suggestion?

There are Republican congressmen who are trying to defund all abortion providers. They need our support. Pray that they succeed.